A newsletter of useful ideas
Short Order's inaugural monthly compendium
Hello friends. It’s been a while.
Let’s skip over the awkward post-quarantine conversations and get right to what our new monthly newsletter is about: Inspiration for better brand storytelling and audience-building.
We hope this will provide you with a few thought-provoking minutes every month. We’d love to hear feedback on which parts you like and which parts … not so much. We’d also just love to hear from you. Because it’s great to be with people again.
Something We Liked: Propel Bikes YouTube Channel
Zach: Once you start using a bicycle for transportation in the city, it’s hard to go back. The convenience, the speed, the feeling of being alive. I’ve been riding the same Dutch citybike for 10 years. After having kids, I discovered the incredible utility of the bus (until COVID), but I’ve really missed the convenience of the bicycle. So I decided to look into one of these amazing-looking front-loader cargo bikes.
My search began on YouTube, as most searches do for people under 40 (I’m barely in this category). I found surprisingly little information about cargo bikes. Half of the videos were in German. But there was one YouTube channel that had dozens of hours of simple, well-produced video devoted to cargo eBikes (and it turns out, some e in your Bike is helpful when it’s loaded up with an extra hundred pounds).
These videos from Propel are incredibly simple. There’s no masterful filmmaking going on here. Most of them are 10-30 minutes long, during which the not-particularly-telegenic owner of Propel, Chris Nolte, shares everything he has to say about eBikes and biking culture. It’s filmed competently with good sound and b-roll.
It’s just one guy talking about the things he talks about every day. Honest, authentic, no punchy script or algorithmic pandering.
Over the course of a few weeks, I watched hours of Propel’s videos. They are, by far, the most helpful resource on the entire world wide web for making a decision about a cargo bike purchase. After all that watching, I naturally bought a bike from the person who helped me the most, the person I now trust the most: Chris Nolte. Turns out, they’re just now opening a distribution center in Wilmington! (They’re hiring, though it’s not website-official yet. But watch this space.) So the best distributor of eBikes in America now has these locations: Brooklyn—Long Beach—Wilmington. Pretty cool.
The moral of this story: What people most want to hear from you are usually the things that are most obvious, easy, and natural to you. Here’s a tweet to ponder from a teacher of mine:
Something We Learned: Lessons from the 2021 YouTube Works Awards
There’s a lot in here that rang true to us. A few takeaways:
Be authentic. Authenticity is the most valuable currency in business, and the most elusive. People respond to authenticity above all. If they get even a whiff that you’re selling them, misleading them, being guarded or phony, you are instantly dismissed. But if it feels real, you can sell Zach a bike. (Clearly.)
Stop talking about yourself. Notice that these winning ads from GoDaddy aren’t about GoDaddy at all. They are stories about entrepreneurs presented by GoDaddy. Every sophisticated brand has understood this for years, but many have not yet employed this refreshing strategy: Your audience wants to hear from you, not necessarily about you.
Meet your audience where they are. Trying to change people’s habits is a losing battle. Find out where your audience already is, what questions they have, and put the answers where they are most likely to find them.
Create an immersive experience. The team at Retrospec Films was in the middle of a 52-week Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department series when the pandemic started. They quickly pivoted to showing off the state’s socially distanced strengths. “With a 33:1 ROI, this campaign garnered almost $7 million in projected lodging revenue.” And it’s fun. Really fun. And I want to go to Oklahoma now, which is a sentence I have never uttered before.
Something We Did: “Delaware Gets Vaccinated” Series
Matt: A couple months ago, we were kicking around ideas with the governor’s office about how we might help support the state’s vaccination efforts. Zach had gotten his first shot the day before, and he shared a bit about how emotional the experience was for him. And that’s when we thought:
“Wait, why don’t we just talk to people right after they get vaxxed?”
We hit the road, setting up cameras at vaccination clinics in Wilmington, Dover and Seaford and talking to dozens of people. They told us stories of love and loss, science and faith, sadness and hope. We spoke with teachers, retirees, college students, and one guy who had spent a year wearing a Darth Vader helmet every time he stepped outside his house. It was a trip. And just a few weeks later, the commercials were on TV. Here’s a too-long-for-TV version:
Something … Next?
We’d love to hear from you — whether or not you’ve got a project in the pipeline. Drop us a note or give a call at 302-656-1638, and let’s talk.